cover image The Extinction Agenda

The Extinction Agenda

Michael Laurence. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-15848-2

Laurence’s unimpressive debut features yet another FBI agent on the trail of a complex conspiracy. Special agent James Mason and his partner, Spencer Kane, serve on an interagency task force whose responsibilities include investigating human trafficking. When an Arizona border patrol agent notices signs of smugglers, Mason and Kane follow up and find a lot of dead birds and evidence that “an unidentified group has gained access to potentially inexhaustible reservoirs of a virus similar to the bird flu,” raising the prospect of a massive bioterror attack. Their investigation soon proves costly. Kane and the members of a SWAT team are killed, along with Mason’s IRS agent wife. A year later, Mason gets a lead on the man responsible, who calls himself the Hoyl, after a bird with phoenix-like properties from Jewish legend. To stop the Hoyl, Mason teams with unlikely allies, including childhood friend Ramses Donovan, a criminal who “followed a civilized code reminiscent of the early mafiosi.” Neither the prose nor characterizations compensates for the familiar plot. Readers will struggle to suspend their disbelief. Agent: Alex Slater, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)